On the Verge: Blind Pilot

Blind Pilot’s first tour in 2008 was entirely on bicycle. Lead singer and guitarist Israel Nebeker, and drummer Ryan Dobrowski, launched the tour in Washington, and finished in San Diego. They pulled their instruments behind them the entire way inbike trailers that they designed themselves.

“Neither of us had ever done a bike tour before, with or without instruments and we didn’t even book shows, we just kind of rolled into town and asked people where we could play music,” Nebeker said. “We were kind of flying by the seat of our pants and just stepping out blindly,” hence the band name, Blind Pilot.

When the now six-piece band rolled up in front of the WERS studio, it wasn’t on bicycles. It was on a big blue school bus they purchased in their hometown of Portland Oregon. They renovated it to make traveling across the country a more comfortable experience.

“We gutted it, put in woodwork and bunks and a kitchen, and it’s been great. It’s kind of like a home away from home,” Nebeker said.

They unloaded an upright bass, a banjo, a guitar, a drum set, and a harmonium from the bus, and into the WERS studio. Nebeker led the band in “Keep you Right” off their recently released album We Are the Tide. The upbeat folk sound of the music masked longing lyrics that told of being away from home.

“It’s pleasing to listen to this,” Nebeker said of the new album, “I guess I kind of just wanted to trick people into getting sucked into the songs before they realize the subject matter is a little bit darker.” Their second song was also off We Are the Tide, titled “New York.” Both songs draw their influence from Nebeker’s love for traveling.

“My favorite thing to do is travel. I just like traveling to new places. It’s good because we’re always on the road, but even when we’re not on the road I like to go to new places,” Nebeker said. “A sense of place and what that means to people personally and to people as a community has always intrigued me and kind of worked its way into my songs, especially on this last group of songs when I wrote them in a time when we were always moving.”

We made sure to get a picture of Blind Pilot in front of the Big Blue bus before they headed to their show at the Paradise Rock Club, and beyond.

Words and Photos by Dominick Sorrentino

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